2018 Pastor’s Reading List

1.    WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE, by Nathan Pitchford (2011). This is a great little book on the doctrines of grace (50 plus pages) that considers Unconditional Election, Total Depravity, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints…not from a theologians perspective, but rather from a biblical scholars perspective. There is very little theological explanation of these doctrines offered up on these serious doctrinal points. What is offered up is Scripture that supports each of these doctrines of grace. The first part of the book takes the particular doctrine and provides a biblical address for the reader to look up confirming this doctrines accuracy and the second part is this expanded in that the biblical addresses and the full references is given.  There are many helpful points to this little book but key among them is that by the time you finish this book you have transversed the entire Bible at least 5 times…a great exercise that solidifies these doctrines and our ability to articulate them from a biblical reference rather than just theologically phrased opinion. This little book is free from Monergism and ought to be on everyone’s iPad or phone as a quick reference guide to these wonderful doctrines of grace.

2.    THE CASE FOR LIFE: EQUIPPING CHRISTIANS TO ENGAGE THE CULTURE, by Scott Klusendorf (2009). I have read many books that seek to prepare the average Christian to engage their culture about this subject of paramount import, but this one rises above all the rest.  It is extremely academic, in that it dissects the mind of the pro-abortionist extremely well from many different directions, but at the same time it is very practical in giving each person who reads this something they can walk away with and use from day one.  He recommends many books at the end that everyone serious about this atrocity occurring in our world should have…but I will go out on a limb and say all you need is this one. He doesn’t spend a lot of time “proving” the truth of the sanctity of life because he operates from a place of certainty in God and God’s Word that makes this clear throughout its pages. The dignity of all human beings is found in the image of God and since the Bible and science support the fact that the unborn are human then everything the Bible says about life applies across the board to the born and the unborn…for all are human created in the image of God. It is a book that you can go to at any time for helpful information and we should. (it is less than 300 pages and very readable.)

3.    JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ALONE, by R.C. Sproul (2010). This is yet another of the small books (64 or so pages depending on your version) that were produced to share these doctrinal truths with the masses. This is perhaps the shortest and most easily read volume on this essential doctrine to the Christian faith. R.C. himself lays out irrefutable evidence against the Roman Catholic view and the antinomian view of justification.  Specifically targeting the Roman Catholic view he even gives a handy chart at the end that shows the differences quickly and concisely.  R.C. himself says at the end of this booklet, “The differences between these two “gospels”(the Roman catholic and the historical Protestant view) is in grave danger of being lost in our day. Efforts to heal the breach between Rome and the Reformation have yielded confusion among many. The issue cannot be resolved by studied ambiguities or different meanings attached to the same words. The crucial issue of infusion versus imputation remains the irreconcilable issue. We are either justified by a righteousness that is in us or by a righteousness that is apart from us. There is no third way.” I cannot say it better so I won’t.  But everyone ought to read this little work.

4.    HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, by J.K. Rowling (1998).  This was a free book from Kindle and as I was out of Kindle books to read I downloaded it and to my surprise I found it to be a fun read.  It is not the literary masterpiece in the same vain as The Lord of the Rings but it masterfully written to draw a person in and keep them wanting more. It is a story of great courage, strength, loyalty, and sacrifice.  Harry and his cohorts at great sacrifice to themselves are seeking to keep Hogwarts safe from unknown forces when they discover that Lord Voldemort a dark wizard/ spirt is behind the mischief leading towards an unknown nefarious purpose. I am a fan of the movies so it seemed fun to pick up this free book.  I have found out some things that were left hanging in the movies that may answer the whole question as to why thing proceed as they do…specifically that Voldemort cannot be killed until or unless he takes on human form…but that is enough for now. Fun stuff and only 322 pages or so.

5.    NEVER LOOK AT THE EMPTY SEATS: A MEMOIR, by Charlie Daniels (2017). This was a most interesting read to be sure. There is much in here to admire but especially the learning curve towards humility in his long life of entertainment. Charlie makes a great argument for working hard and following your heart…but all through the book he gives glory to God. His testimony of his faith is seen throughout but the chapters that speaks specifically to his faith are inspirational even if there are some doctrinal weaknesses. He is a man who has obviously sought to do his own thing in an industry that seeks to shape people into their mold. His wisdom is common sense wisdom that many people from his generation hold but very few actually share…Charlie doesn’t hold back in this book.  I wouldn’t have picked this book up naturally but I am extremely glad that Leslie picked it up for me for I have grown as a person just by reading his testimony of a lifetime lived here in our midst in a culture complete foreign to me and yet we see a man who holds to the same faith (in most ways)) that I hold to. The title: NEVER LOOK AT THE EMPTY SEATS is what I have sought to believe through the years…the people who are there when you preach are the ones God means to be there (how many or how few)…so proclaim as if your life…and there life… depends on it.  Well worth the time.

6.    My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most by Charles W. Colson, Eric Metaxas, Anne Morse (2017). Chuck Colson’s voice can still be heard in these memos and articles that never got around to be published since he wrote constantly based on this constant reading.  Chuck Colson was a Christian man of the moment and true son of Issachar seeking to help the church to understand the times and our role in these times. If you have never read Chuck Colson before this would be a great overview of everything that he talked and wrote about for over 3 decades before his death. This book which has been put together by Anne Morse and forwarded by Eric Metaxas seeks to cover a wide variety of subjects from apologetics to bioethics to happiness to suffering and ending with a chapter devoted to the war of worldviews. This is a worthwhile read for anyone who wishes to get a good handle on the events of the day and what the church’s role is to be in them. The subject matter is matter of fact and of such a grave nature… even if some of them are a few years old now…that everyone ought to read these and wrestle with them with Scripture to come to an answer for the good of the Church and the glory of God.

7.     Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling (2000). (As I recover from surgery, I am enjoying reading this series.)Young Mr. Potter is growing into his own, however... still struggling in his person, with Ron and Hermione teaching him about such things as Mudbloods and Squibs. Through all of this he is also trying to discover where the voices are coming from and when he finds out he comes face to face with his arch rival that he didn’t know he had... saving the day once again. One of my favorite quotes so far, "It only put me in Gryffindor,” said Harry in a defeated voice, “because I asked not to go in Slytherin. . . .Exactly, said Dumbledore, beaming once more. Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. Harry sat motionless in his chair, stunned." This book was a slow read... the first was fun, but this took work to get through until you get to the last few chapters. All in all I push on to the Prisoner of Azkaban.

8.     Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling (2001). I love how this book opens, "Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night. And he also happened to be a wizard." Harry is learning a lot…the hard way…through extreme difficulty and trial…which is how most of us learn the lessons that matter…the ones that stay with us forever.  Harry comes face to face with his past in this book and comes out wiser and stronger than ever before…and happier I might add. This book takes many twists and turns and keeps your attention from start to finish and your heart is warmed by its outcome. Dumbledore says to Harry near the end, "You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night." As we end the book it sounds like it will be a pretty good holiday after all…

 9.     HARRY POTTER: THE GOBLET OF FIRE, By J.K. Rowling (2002). Another turbulent but “fun” account of the on-going life of the young and maturing wizard Harry Potter.  The antics of Ron, Hermione and him continue to explore the wizarding world revealing that there is a nefarious force alive and well in their midst. And then there is the Triwizard Tournament…aka the Quad-wizard Tournament.  What fun…what intrigue…what sadness and along the way from beginning to the end life lessons abound from this book for Potter and his entourage, such as, "If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”, along with revelations that will shake, sharpen and solidify the wizarding world at its core. Professor Dumbledore says "I say to you all, once again —in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open." Not to over spiritualize, but Christians would do well to remember this same thought concerning our fallen nature and the influence of Satan in these last days.

 10.  CHRIST SET FORTH, by Thomas Godwin (First published 1642…Monergism 2017). One of the things I love about the Puritans writings is that it is so contemporary in content…because while technology has advanced the weaknesses and sinfulness has not really changed through the ages.  This text is written for the Christian who struggles with the truths of the gospel that remind us of our weakness and Christ’s superior strength.  It was a great exposition of Romans 8:34 reminding us of what God the Father has done for us because we are NOT “good enough” to lean into ourselves…in fact when we seek to live by our heart we will suffer in our faith and walk in this life…because we do not read, meditate and speak of God’s word to others we seek to look within ourselves for some supposed “inner strength” which isn’t there.  Rev. Godwin reminds his readers then, and us today, that we are to look to Christ not ourselves…God set forth Christ for that purpose. As Michael Horton says about this book, “Turning to nearly any page in this volume, readers will be rewarded with a remarkably pastoral theology of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” For it is in the doctrines of Scripture that we will be able to experience the peace, hope and comfort that God the Father promises in Christ. (264 pages plus or minus) I found this on the Banner of Truth website concerning Rev. Godwin’s early life: “Thomas Goodwin was born in 1600 in the small village of Rollesby in Norfolk. His parents were God-fearing, and at that time the Norfolk Broads were well-soaked in Puritanism, so unsurprisingly he grew up somewhat religious. That all wore off, though, when he went up to Cambridge as a student. There he divided his time between 'making merry' and setting out to become a celebrity preacher. He wanted, he later said, to be known as one of 'the great wits' of the pulpit, for his 'master-lust' was the love of applause. “  He became a true man and servant of God…so somewhere along the way Christ got a hold of Him convincing him of the truths of Scripture that he wishes all Christians to hold on to.

 11.  The Glorious Feast of the Gospel, by Richard Sibbes (first published in 1650, digital form 2016). This is a series of sermon (9 in all) from Isaiah 25:6-9...where Isaiah prophesies about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb at the consummation.  Believers of all ages are at one time or another out of communion with God because of our sin…because we are not as diligent in our study and worship…or simply because we suffer some grief or affliction where we “feel” separated from God. Like the work above Rev. Sibbes seeks to renew the believers understanding of who we are in Christ…what we have now and what we have to look forward to in eternity…the strength and size of God’s love in Christ so that we can rise above the morass of this fallen world in which God has placed us. As I have said in the past Rev. Sibbes is perhaps the easiest of all Puritan preachers and writers to follow and understand.  This work is only a little over 200 pages but well worth the believer’s time especially if you like reading sermons.

12.  HARRY POTTER:THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, J.K. Rowling (2004). Harry’s days as a student at Hogwarts’s School of Magic seem to be numbered. No one from the Ministry of Magic wants to listen to what he has to say…in fact, they want him out of the picture all together. When that fails…those around him that he trusts most seem to not want to listen him as well…so as usual he seeks to take matters into his own hands.  In fact, the book is full of people taking things into their hands without regard for the consequences which leads at least in one case to a dire ending. As usual this book has a number of twists and turns that keeps their reader entertained and spellbound (pun intended). This book is almost 900 pages long but felt like the much smaller ones because of all the action and intrigue throughout.

13.  HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, by J.K. Rowley (2006). As Harry moves into his sixth year his power continues to grow…but is it enough? Even in the midst of a war that has spilled over into the non-wizarding world life goes on at Hogwarts where we find Harry struggling with himself…his temper and his felling for a particular red-headed girl. Lord Voldemort is growing stronger as is Harry’s relationship with Professor Dumbledore as they seek together to unravel Lord Voldemort’s weaknesses if there are any. The professor gives Harry great encouragement when he says of Harry; “You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!” said Dumbledore loudly. “The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s! In spite of all the temptation you have endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you were at the age of eleven, when you stared into a mirror that reflected your heart’s desire, and it showed you only the way to thwart Lord Voldemort, and not immortality or riches." And this as well when Harry gets discouraged; "It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated. . . ." This is yet another long book(over 650 pages) but the action is seemingly non-stop for Harry, Ron and Hermione as they seek to discover the coming and goings of the usual culprits Malfoy, Snape and of course, Lord Voldemort. A Potions book and a new professor are a great distraction for Harry and the gang but the “fun” also comes with great tragedy as the book comes to an end…heading into the Deathly Hallows next.

 14.  THE CROSSING, (The Last Cavaliers series Book 1) by Gilbert Morris (2011). I picked this up just before it went into our church library. I had forgotten how well Gilbert Morris writes his historical dramas. This particular book is a story about the life of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as told through the fictional character Yancy Tremayne. Yancy who is half Cheyenne and whose family are Amish…which adds to the whole drama of this story in so many wonderful ways as the two families…the Jackson’s and the Tremayne’s are intertwined before the Civil War and then after the conflict begins. Along the way Yancy finds himself as a man under the tutelage of 2 wonderful examples…his dad and Stonewall Jackson who begins as his professor at Virginia Military Institute and then his commanding officer during some of the bloodiest battles of the war. This has been one of those can’t wait to pick it up again…now I must read the other 2. (approx. 360 plus pages in paperback)

15.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, by J.K. Rowling(2009). The heart of Book 7 is a hero's mission--not just in Harry's quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man--and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. It seems as this book sums up this whole story line that readers would do well to remember Dumbledore's warning about making the choice between "what is right and what is easy," and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. It is in this book that you will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and Lord Voldemort, but Rowling's skill as a storyteller is revealed in that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise. There is an interesting exchange of note between the main characters that really got me thinking, “’But even if we wreck the thing it lives in,” said Ron, “why can’t the bit of soul in it just go and live in something else?’ ‘Because a Horcrux is the complete opposite of a human being’, says Hermione. Seeing that Harry and Ron looked thoroughly confused, Hermione hurried on, ‘Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran you through with it, I wouldn’t damage your soul at all.’  ‘Which would be a real comfort to me, I’m sure,’ said Ron. Harry laughed. ‘It should be, actually! But my point is that whatever happens to your body, your soul will survive, untouched,’ said Hermione. ‘But it’s the other way round with a Horcrux. The fragment of soul inside it depends on its container, its enchanted body, for survival. It can’t exist without it.’” I am always interested by how fiction, as in this case, mirrors the truth….for our body may die but our soul lives on. This book has been, as all the books, a fun read and enlightening as well…the themes that work best have always been creation, fall and restoration and they are evident throughout these books and especially this one.  Another long book (almost 800 pages) but a page turner to be sure.  Thank you K.K.Rowley for a good month of reading a classic story.

16.  HOW SHALL I APPROACH GOD?, by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). This is an interesting little booklet (60 plus pages depending upon digital formatting) put together by Chapel Library Resources (Free Grace Broadcasters) for the edification of the church. It is made up of nine short messages, each from a different perspective, inviting those in the church to carefully consider the claims of God upon their lives. These were not originally sermons. Each short message was written specifically as a tract to command the attention of readers across time and cultures. It begins with these words, “Crystal clear evangelism written for every man from nine perspectives.”…and to that end here is an example of the clarity for which it speaks…”There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is not thine, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished—neither to be taken from nor added to—perfect through all ages—and presented by Himself to you, that you may avail yourself of it and be saved.”

 17.  GOD’S WAY OF PEACE, A BOOK FOR THE ANXIOUS, by Horatius Bonar (digital formatting by Monergism 2017). For those who are anxious about their faith this book goes a long way to give complete assurance for the anxious believer. This book was painstakingly preserved by a team of workers so that we today could receive the benefit of such God lead discussion on matters of the heart…like peace. It has been given to all who believe through the Holy Spirit but because of our stubbornness it is the hardest for us to experience in this life. This s yet another small book (75-100 pages depending upon the version you download) but it is filled with insight to help the true believer know where God’s peace comes from. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The following quote comes from the 3rd chapter and it basically summaries the rest of the book, “We have seen that a sinner's peace cannot come from himself, nor from the knowledge of himself, nor from thinking about his own acts and feelings, nor from the consciousness of any amendment of his old self. Whence, then, is it to come? How does he get it? It can only come from God; and it is in knowing God that he gets it. God has written a volume for the purpose of making Himself known; and it is in this revelation of His character that the sinner is to find the rest that he is seeking.” Excellent little book for all us of when we have a hard time experiencing God’s peace.

18.  DOCTRINE OF GOD, by John Dagg (1857). This is the 2nd book of a 3 book work entitled The Manuel of Theology. This Southern Baptist preacher and teacher was a true Calvinist in the same vein of Charles Spurgeon and while his position on the sacraments, namely baptism, were not Reformed he lead the charge in his church and in the classroom for a Reformed and Calvinistic approach to the Scriptures and to life. This section entitled the Doctrine of God  very simply and yet profoundly informs the seeking student how to learn more about God in this very systematic approach. He begins this adapted booklet this way, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’ (Dt 6:5). In this manner the Bible commands the chief of all duties. No reasons are assigned for the requirement. No proof is adduced that God exists, or that he possesses such perfections as entitle him to the supreme love of his creatures. Jehovah steps forth before the subjects of his government, and issues his command. He waits for no formal introduction.”  Monergism has formatted this into a digital form and offer it for free online.  Not many Presbyterians know of John Dagg but he is perhaps as worthy of our time as Charles Spurgeon…this work is approximately 100 pages depending upon formatting.

 19.  ANDREW JACKSON AND THE MIRACLE OF NEW ORLEANS: THE BATTLE THAT SHAPED AMERICA’S DESTINY, by Brian Kilmeade with Don Yeager (2017). Whether you are a fan of Andrew Jackson or not this is a book of history.  Without the events that are so well spelled out in this book there might not be a United States today.  As great Britain sought to re-claim the Americas for the Crown, one man stood tall enough to rally the western part of the country to stop the aggression that would have surely destroyed this floundering country. Andrew Jackson’s determination in the face of great odds…not just from Great Britain but also from his own country and his own body enabled him with a lot of intervention from God Almighty to save this country at a time it most needed it. At a speech in Nashville after the battle Jackson said, “The sons of America have given proof how impossible it is to conquer freemen fighting in defense of all that is dear to them. Henceforth we shall be respected by nations who, mistaking our character, had treated us with the utmost contumely and outrage. Years will continue to develop our inherent qualities, until, from being the youngest and the weakest, we shall become the most powerful nation in the universe” (page 218).  A very well written book and extremely riveting…another historical hit from Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager… a read for everyone interested in true history.

 20.  ALIVE OR DEAD? by J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). This originally was part of a longer sermon on the subject of salvation. This section became an evangelistic tract…they obviously did things different back then...no pictures just meaningful words. (What a concept!) It asks a very simple question to its readers…Are you among the living or the dead? Rev. Ryle challenges the reader to consider his condition before His Maker.  With some eloquent and thoughtful argumentation he sets the “score” before his readers both believer and non-believer. For the non-believer he asks, “To everyone who is dead in sins I say this day—Why will you die? Are the wages of sin so sweet and good, that you cannot give them up? Is the world so satisfying that you cannot forsake it? Is the service of Satan so pleasant that you and he are never to be parted? Is heaven so poor a thing that it is not worth seeking? Is your soul of so little consequence, that it is not worth a struggle to have it saved? Oh, turn! turn before it be too late! God is not willing that you should perish.” To the believer he challenges, “Are you alive? Then see that you prove it by your actions. Be a consistent witness. Let your words, and works, and ways, and tempers all tell the same story. Let not your life be a poor torpid life, like that of a tortoise or a sloth—let it rather be an energetic stirring life, like that of a deer or bird.” This pamphlet/tract, resurrected by Monergism and easily downloaded is a great reminder for both…for there is a time in the life of both for this type of retrospection, “Are you dead, or are you alive?"

 21.  RAISING MEN:LESSONS NAVY SEALS LEARNED FROM THEIR TRAINING AND TAUGHT TO THEIR SONS, by Eric Davis (2016). There are many father and sons truths here to be found in this book…some as old as time…but told from the perspective of one who was a member of the elite SEAL Teams. This book challenges men to be men with chapter titles such as Building a team, lead from the front, hesitation kills, don’t be right. Be effective, the only easy day was yesterday…the challenge becomes obvious. He is speaking directly to men who would rather have a molar taken out without painkillers than to be the father that they have been called to be. This is an extremely “manly” book to be sure. But it is too heavily laced with the language that military personnel use to intimidate, humiliate and communicate…so many curse words with an inappropriate use of one word in particular for me to recommend this book to anyone except a Jarhead, a Ranger or a SEAL. It would seem to me given the amount of intelligence that these men have and this one in particular that this language would not have to govern the books content. I wonder if he would want his daughter to pick this book up and read it…if so I would then have to question everything that he has written…for this kind of language is never appropriate for our women or our girls. Not appropriate as a tool for raising our boys as well. Call me a prude if you like…but he makes some great points concerning responsibility, accountability and a family being a team that needs one another but these are often colored by his continual use of a word that I find unnecessary.  Military…I get it…but in my humble opinion he has a lot to say and a very limited audience. Actually I would conclude that this book is more about SEAL training than about raising men …which was his topic for the book.

 22.  THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, by William Reid (1861). Rev. Reid was a Presbyterian minister who served with the Free Church of Scotland for many years before stepping over into the Brethren Church...an interesting move concerning the doctrine that he espouses in this treatise (100 plus pages) so clearly is biblical and Reformed. He speaks both the believers and non-believers in this treatise…to believer he speaks to our continual self-evaluation concerning what is actually influencing our worldview.  He says many extremely helpful things but here are a couple, “You may hold a sound creed with a proud, unbroken heart—and be more deeply damned on that very account. But if you wish to know God in all the glory of His being and attributes, you must grasp the manifestation of that glory as it is embodied and manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ.” And this: “As well in our winters as our summers, the foundation standeth sure: ‘Christ is all.’ With Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (Jam 1:17). Precious truth! Let us rest upon it, and cease from the vain endeavor to find anything in us that can give the shadow of hope. Abiding hope must be fixed on the object that changeth not. We change daily, hourly; He remains glorious in holiness eternally.” To non-believers he has these questions and comments; “What must I do to be saved? What is the true ground of a sinner’s peace with God? What am I to believe in order to be saved?” Well, in so far as laying the foundation of your reconciliation is concerned, I wish you to observe that you have nothing to do; for the Almighty Surety of sinners said on Calvary, “It is finished ” (Joh 19:30). Jesus has done all that the Holy Jehovah deemed necessary to be done to insure complete pardon, acceptance, and salvation to all who believe in His name.” This is a great treatise to read and re-read…thankfully it has been reprinted and place online for free so we can do just that. You can find this at www.chapellibrary.org .

 23.  THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE, OR, A BREIF SUM OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, CONTAINED IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES AND HOLDEN FORTH IN THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH AND CATECHISMS; TOGETHER WITH THE PRACTICAL USE OF IT, by David Dickson and James Durham. (They really knew how to make a title roll off the lips, don’t you think?) Originally was written and given the simple title The Sum of Saving Knowledge, as a refutation of Arminianism in 1650 while the 2 of them were also working of the ‘Directory of Public Worship’ for the Presbyterians in Scotland in the Free Church of Scotland. This work is a point counterpoint not so much of refutation but of encouragement so that that man and woman of God may be assured of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It came to be attached to the documents of the WCF after their death though it was never given full general assembly compliance. The copy I am reading from Monergism.com is approx.148 pages and was printed first in 1727, then again in 1871…and then again by the university of Edinburgh where Dickson had held the chair in Church History in 116 and then now digitally reworked for download in 2014 as far as I can tell. This is an exceptional read. The authors say, “The sum of the gospel, or Covenant of Grace and reconciliation, is this: ‘If you flee from deserved wrath to the true Redeemer Jesus Christ (who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through him), you shall not perish, but have eternal life’”. Rom. 10.8, 9, 11.  A great reminder in this day and age of easy believeism…since fleeing takes a lot of work given our nature to flee towards the wrong rather than the right. One of the best summaries of saving faith, the Christian walk and the benefits of this faith written in such a short form.

 24.  D-DAY THROUGH GERMAN EYES: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS BY GERMAN SOLDIERS OF JUNE 6, 1944 , by Holger Eckhertz (2015). This is a grandson honoring the work of his grandfather Dieter Eckhertz who in 1944 was a military journalist for the German Army...writing many articles of interest, many of which were propaganda pieces on behalf of the 3rd Reich. Herr Eckhertz left the service after the war but he still had one more project in him to complete which was a series of interviews with various German soldiers and officers who had fought in Normandy on that eventful day of June 6, 1944…the day the Allies knew as “D-Day”. The reason for this project was that he had spoken to many of these men before D-Day because of how formidable the fortification were along the coast…but now 10 years later…in 1954…he sought these same men out to talk about that day. However, the project was still in progress when Herr Eckhertz died in 1955 and was never completed until his grandson picked it up and completed the interviews with those men who were still alive that were willing to talk about that day. Given Germany’s hesitation in bringing up details concerning the 3rd Reich not much time was spent in writing about the war especially from the perspective of the German soldier. In this book and the next one D-Day Through German Eyes Book 2…he carries out his grandfather’s desire and reveals things from the German perspective that I was unaware of…things that I think many would not know except the most astute followers of WWII history… which makes this first book fascinating to be sure. One thing stands out to me throughout this book which was a shocker…and it revolves around the reason that so many German soldiers fought so fiercely on the Western front especially at Normandy. (It’s not what you think.)You will have to read it to discover what I am talking about. Just one tidbit of details…can’t not say something… One German prisoner on the beach that day asked an American soldier, “Where are all your horses?”

 25.  D-DAY THROUGH GERMAN EYES: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS BY GERMAN SOLDIERS OF JUNE 6, 1944, BOOK 2 , by Holger Eckhertz (2015). This is a continuation of the interviews that his grandfather had had with men who fought in Normandy on that fateful day from the German side of things. Many of the same realities that I alluded to in the first critique are true of this one…many of the things that I had never heard or read before about June 6, 1944 are spoken of here as well with a few more details…admissions and declarations that the first book didn’t have.  Also, in this book, of all the interviews, we see one of the men who realized the atrocities of the 3rd Reich even though it came 10 years after the war. We see many proud military men doing their duty because they really didn’t have any other option…though the propaganda machine at the time had convinced them of their duty to a “united Europe” which was anything but the truth. Once again these interviews were expertly done revealing things that eve the interviewer didn’t expect sometimes.  Good reporting and good writing.

26.  ASCENSION, from Free Grace Broadcaster Issue #243 (2018). Another digital booklet (75-100 pages depending upon formatting) covering this often not discussed topic of Christ’s ascension. We spend much time, as we should, on the truth of the Cross and the Resurrection and not enough on the Ascension of Christ as they did in previous generations as displayed from these works from Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Isaac Ambrose, William Swan Plumer, John Gill, A.W. Pink, Jonathan Edwards, and John Flavel. Previous generations seemed to preach more on the full counsel of God than we do today. I am constantly made of this being the case when talking to people who simply do not remember sermons or teaching on such a subject as the ascension of Christ. It is sad for the Church today to not be exposed to the full council of God.  Good expository preaching, which is also disappearing today, demands that we cover each of these topics/doctrines that Scripture teaches. The subjects that are dealt with I these booklets are extremely informative and encouraging for God’s church…and they are FREE on line at www.chapellibrary.org . If you are at all interested in “listening” to a long line of godly men speak here is an excellent resource for the church.

 27.  THE AFFECTIONATE THEOLOGY OF RICHARD SIBBES, by Mark Dever (2018).  This book continues the series called The Long Line of Godly Men from reformation Trust Publishing. This book is adapted from Mark E. Dever’s, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, his doctoral dissertation and much of it, even in this form, reads that way.  But if like me, you are interested in these men who affected to Church in a powerful way…you can look past this short coming in writing style. I am and have been a great fan of Richard Sibbes - his writings and his sermons through the years - who very much like others through the years have remained in the Church of England, and by God’s grace, were able to preach a thoroughly Reformed/biblical message without compromise. Mark Devers gives us a truly informative book on this man who seems to be the J.I. Packer or John Stott of his day.  Dever says of Sibbes, "Sibbes’ loyalty to the Church of England was also consistent with his theology. He understood the church to be a covenant community far more extensive than the elect, intended to be filled with people in various spiritual states. Therefore, imperfection was expected and tolerated—though not excused—and the use of means vigorously encouraged. Indeed, the covenant obliged one to live a life of holiness. Sibbes’ interiorization of piety—not unique to him, but powerfully communicated in his sermons—accounts for his popularity with disparate groups, for his ability to conform to the demands of the church, and also for the potential for a Christianity lived in disobedience to ungodly earthly authorities." And towards the end Dever says of Sibbes, "Not that Sibbes was a moderate man when preaching of the necessity of justification by faith, the certainty of God’s salvation of the elect, or the duty of all members of the covenant to fulfill their obligations. His moderation was reserved for those externals of religion, which he deemed matters of indifference and which his church deemed edifying—the sign of the cross, the use of clerical garments, and perhaps even an unworthy recipient of a fellowship. Even in his last years when he must have felt most circumscribed and could have most easily despaired, he remained a member of “the sacred communion of the truly Evangelical Church of England.”

 28.  JOKER ONE: A MARINE PLATOON’S STORY OF COURAGE, LEADERSHIP, AND BROTHERHOOD,  by Donovan Campbell (2009). This is an excellent and riveting read. It was definitely another one of those that was hard to put down. This book is the story of Lt. Donovan Campbell and his platoon Joker One and their deployment together in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004. It is excellent because his writing style draws the reader into his mix of characters and a story that is real.  As with so many others of these…stories that need to be told because the men do not feel as if they can tell it. This book is about how all these men from their platoon commander down to the lowest grunt learned and grew together. Lt. Campbell talks of his inadequacies concerning His leadership which actually sprang from his inadequate relationship with his Lord and Savior. He says at one point: "What I know now, and which didn’t occur to me then, was that by praying as I prayed, and hoping what I hoped, and believing what I believed, I was effectively reducing God to a result-dispensing genie who, if just fed the proper incantations, would give the sincere petitioner (me) the exact outcome desired." His new wife was used by God as well. When he was getting all puffed up with himself and the “luck” of his platoon, she said, "She was glad that no one was hurt, she said, but she reminded me that God wasn’t a cosmic slot machine that came up sevens every time for the pious believer. He doesn’t guarantee us health and prosperity, or even safety for your men in this life, she told me. All He guarantees you is your relationship with Him in the next. They were hard words of truth, to be sure, but ones spoken in love." You don’t often hear a Marine talk like this but this was to be part of his growth…his leadership and the brotherhood that grew from that was all based on the growth of his faith in a place so far away from the faith he knew and it was just what he needed. By the end of it all this is how he came to see his role: "It was constantly teaching my men, sharing everything with them until I had nothing left to give, with the expectation and the hope that they would become greater than me. It was making myself less so that they might become more." This book came highly recommended by Chick Colson and as a lesser voice I include my endorsement.

 29.  CHURCH DISCIPLINE, by various writers, from Free Grace Broadcaster Issue #122 (2012). The authors in this issue R. Albert Mohler, Jr, James Bannermann, John Gill, Daniel E. Wray, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon all have one thing in common…they believe in Church Discipline and the 3rd strand in defining a true biblical church, though many come from a decidedly baptistic/Congregational position on church polity. I say this because most of them leave out the authority and leadership of the elder to hold the sinner responsible as they like the priest represent Gods people. Yet, they are very clear as to Church Discipline's purpose of restoration and to its need to keep the Church pure/holy as intended by God from the beginning. As stated by Dr. Mohler, “Jesus instructed the disciples that anger against a brother is a deadly sin. Reconciliation is a mandate, not a hypothetical goal.” Jonathan Edwards here is the only truly Reformed voice in this booklet.... but then he literally “wrote the book” on church discipline! Having said that…these voices are strong and edifying on a subject that doesn’t get much to any play in today’s church. So, this is yet another booklet that ought to be read by church leaders and members alike.

30.  HOW TO BE A PERFECT CHRISTIAN: YOUR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO FLAWLESS SPIRITUAL LIVING, from the Babylon Bee folks (2018). This is a perfect book for those who seek after the elusive “perfection” badge from God in this life.  For those who desire to be better than anyone else in the Church… this is truly the place to go and it doesn’t cost much either to buy this book and that is a good thing since anything worth having shouldn’t require much or any sacrifice.  This is a step by step guide because we know how important steps are in getting where you want to go. You will be very pleased as you work your way to Christ likeness using this time honored material so meticulously put together for those who earnestly seek it. This is right up there with Scripture and those Confessions that only the stuffy Spirit-filled Christians really consider. Those take too much work and the average perfection seeker is not looking to work…not looking to lift a finger at all.  How to do this is covered exclusively only, here in this book. But wait, there is a special bonus given for measuring how you are doing as you go through this time honored and time proven methodology…the HOLINESS PROGRESS TRACKER 5000.  I’m not kidding...this handy-dandy tool helps to keep you focused on the goal of perfection.  What a great idea!  To you be all the glory! (Really it is just a bunch of satire meant to get you thinking about what is really important to you. I wouldn’t give this book to just anyone any more…people don’t get satire because this is exactly what many people think is real.)

31.  THE BLESSINGS OF HUMILITY, by Jerry Bridges (2016).  This was probably Dr. Bridges last book before his home going and this subject of humility was always on his mind as he wrote about it many times in his other books but not as exclusively as he does in this one. As he says in the introduction…as a people often we admire humble people when we see them…but we are always left with the question of how do we practice humility when it is so obviously not something that comes naturally? But then that is the point of most of his books...along with the point that Bible drives home…short of God’s grace we cannot do anything “good” that would glorify God. So he sets about the task of telling us how, by God’s grace we can actually practice humility and receive the blessings of God at the same time. He takes each Beatitude and clearly explains how they apply to redeemed people and how they reveal humility when we practice them. The Bible presents us with a formidable list, one that none of us will ever perfectly attain to. That is why we need the gospel every day. It is the gospel that will keep us from becoming discouraged and will instead motivate us to keep pursuing humility, even when we fail so often. It is clear throughout that we cannot and will not walk in humility unless we are continually appropriating more and more of the gospel into our daily thinking and actions. His suggestion for appropriating the gospel is an easy one…meditating and praying over key texts from the Bible that we choose …that have been and are meaningful to us. Well, that is a place to start…I too, would suggest journibling through the Scriptures…writing them out and praying over them enables us to see and hear God speak to us.

32.  DEVOTED TO GOD: BLUEPRINTS FOR SANCTIFICATION, by Sinclair Ferguson (2016).  Looking at specific scriptures throughout the New Testament Dr. Ferguson shows us the truth of this doctrine, its importance and the comfort and hope that comes when Christians understand what God is doing to us for His glory and for ours. This is a simple approach to a “simple” doctrine of God’s grace for His people. This is such a helpful tool and ought to be in everyone’s theological toolbox; a toolbox that would also include The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridge, The Quest for Godliness by J. I. Packer and Holiness by J C Ryle.. This is true because his intention is to provide as clear a teaching on holiness as he can. There has been much written throughout the centuries on this subject but this volume captures this doctrine in a way that anyone, from scholar to lay person might be blessed. For he really lets the Bible do the talking here hence the word “blueprints”… for it is God who gives and explains this doctrine best.at one point he is expositing Romans 6 to make his point and his clear thought goes something like this when referring to the text, “Paul is NOT saying that sin has been destroyed…Paul is NOT saying the we no longer experience the influence and impact of our past life in Adam…Paul is NOT saying sin’s presence has been eradicated in our lives…BUT he IS saying that we are no longer citizens of the kingdom in which sin reigns.  We are no longer its slaves or its subjects.” The answer to our dilemma with sanctification is this; we are to believe and trust in God’s promises, keep running towards Jesus and at the same time deal with the sin in our lives…that hangs on. Great book …highly recommend this…just under 300 pages.

 33.  PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE: BIBLICAL GUIDANCE FROM THE PURITANS, by James A. La Belle and Joel Beeke (2016). Wow, there is a lot jammed into a small booklet here. This booklet is the reprinting of a chapter from the book LIVING IN A GODLY MARRIAGE, by La Belle and Beeke from reformation Heritage Books. It is about hearing the voices of Puritan pastors giving advice to young people about the divine ordinance of marriage.  These voices focus on how to prepare yourself for marriage, how to seek a spouse, and how to find an appropriate spouse… all of it based in the seekers faith with God and the potential spouses faith in God. The reason this book would be so helpful today is that we live in such a day where people are rejecting God’s Word out of hand…even Christians…and they seek to do things on their own.  And when it comes to marriage, if we marry at all, we make it up as we go. The Bible is clear about how important Godly counselors are in our lives…so here before us is a little booklet that brings these godly counselors, probably many that you have never heard before…because they were simply faithful pastors of their flocks. This is free download for iBook’s from www.chaplelibrary.org .